The Iraq War Profiteer No One Is Talking About

What's it going to take for us to hold the Iraq War profiteers accountable? The Bush administration's $3 trillion war in Iraq has been the direct cause of our current recession, and yet private defense contractors continue to reap billions in profits. I'm not even talking about KBR for the moment. That loathsome Cheney-backed Halliburton subsidiary has actually been the focus of a bit of media and Congressional attention recently (though not nearly enough) for contaminating our troops' water supplies, ignoring electrical safety standards that led to troop casualties, and dodging hundreds of millions in tax payments. No, I'm talking about L-3, the second largest employer in the Iraq occupation behind KBR.

L-3 makes about $1 billion a year off of the outsourcing of intelligence gathering in Iraq. The U.S. government hired L-3 to work with the military in interrogating and running background checks on Iraqi prisoners and civilians. L-3 now employs approximately 7,000 translators and 300 intelligence experts in Iraq, and has grown to become the ninth largest defense contractor in the U.S and the sixth largest Iraq War profiteer. While this outsourcing alone is cause for alarm, it is how L-3 runs its company that is particularly egregious.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
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